MANUFACTURING sales grew 17.3% year-on-year in February to RM25.8bil from RM22bil previously, according to the latest figures released yesterday by the Statistics Department.
The year-to-date sales for the first two months also recorded growth, increasing 14.8% or RM6.8bil to RM52.6bil versus RM45.8bil in the corresponding period of 2002.
The February sales, however, were lower than Januarys RM26.7bil by 3.4% or some RM900mil. Compared with the manufacturing sales in 2002 the latest result was also lower than those achieved during most months in the second-half of last year.
Analysts said the dip in February was not unexpected, as the shorter working month due to public holidays would have contributed to lower sales.
However, they were more concerned that the impact of the Iraq war and the continuing uncertainties relating to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak could dampen sales, as these twin factors take their toll on manufacturing exports and domestic consumption this year.
In the first two months of 2003, exports of electrical and electronic products, accounting for more than half the countrys total exports, decline 4.4% to RM28.4bil from RM29.7bil previously.
The department said the total number of workers employed in the manufacturing sector rose 1.9% to 966,419 in February against 948,555 people in the same month last year. Wages and salaries also increased to RM1.55bil from RM1.43bil last year, a rise of 8.4% or RM120mil.
Compared with January 2003, however, numbers employed as well as salaries and wages in February registered decreases. Total manufacturing employees fell 0.8% from 973,933 people while the wage bill fell 3.1% from RM1.6bil.
Cumulative wage and salary figures for the first two months, meanwhile, rose 8.2% or RM240mil to RM3.15bil from RM2.91bil incurred during the corresponding period last year.
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